Capital of a canton in Haute-Vienne Stage town for the 2nd time
Population: 4,400 (Miaulétous), 12,000 in the community of communes of Noblat.
Specialities: marzipan (macaroons), candied prunes, Limousin cow.
Personalities: Raymond Poulidor (cyclist), Joseph-Louis Gay-Lussac (chemist), Pierre Dunoyer-de-Segonzac (Resistance fighter), Gilles Deleuze (philosopher, buried there), Serge Gainsbourg (refugee during the war).
Sport: Aqua'Noblat space, sports hall, municipal gymnasium. Étoile sportive Saint-Léonard (football). Basket Club Saint-Léonard. Cyclo Raymond Poulidor. Corrida des Miaulétous.
Culture: Bande de bulles (comics, June). Terre de Zic (July). Biennial event of contemporary painting and sculpture. Fête de la quintaine (November). Medieval festival of Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat. Rise Festival.
Economy: porcelain (Coquet or Carpenet establishments). Industry, commerce, services.
Labels: Unesco World Heritage Site as part of the Compostela routes in France. Ville Fleurie* and Pays d'art et d'histoire de Monts et Barrages.
Websites and social networks: https://www.ville-saint-leonard.fr/ / https://tourisme-noblat.org/ / http://www.ccnoblat.org/ / https://www.haute-vienne.fr/ / http://www.visitlimousin.com/ / https://www.tourisme-creuse.com/lac-de-vassiviere/
SAINT-LÉONARD-DE-NOBLAT AND CYCLING
Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat is of course the town of Raymond Poulidor, who has his statue there. Using the town of “Poupou” as a launch pad to the Puy de Dôme is quite a symbol, recalling his mythical duel with Jacques Anquetil on 12 July 1964. Time has never had any effect on Raymond Poulidor. More than forty years after his last Tour de France, and nearly sixty after his first one, "Poupou", recycled as an ambassador on the caravan of Crédit Lyonnais, now LCL, was still as popular with those who had seen him race, as with those who had only heard about him. From 1962 to 1976, he embodied a certain image of France, valiant and rural, enduring and enterprising if not victorious. While his rival Jacques Anquetil was racking up victories and jerseys, Raymond Poulidor collected podiums, eight in all, to become the symbol of the eternal runner-up, an image in phase with a country that, at that time at least, did not hold winners in its heart. Third in his first Tour in 1962, he finished in the same place in the last one, fourteen years later, making a series of brilliant moves year after year without ever wearing the Yellow Jersey. However, Poupou was anything but a loser. He had 189 victories to his credit, including a Tour of Spain, a Milan-San Remo, a Flèche wallonne, two Paris-Nice, two Critérium du Dauphiné. But it is above all his disappointment, as much as his rivalry with Anquetil, that has left its mark on people's minds and built up the bonds of affection that cycling fans had previously formed with two other riders: Eugène Christophe in the 1910s and 1920s and René Vietto in the 1940s and 1950s. And it doesn't matter that he won seven stages! His career suffered above all from having crossed paths with two of the greatest phenomena in the history of cycling, Anquetil in the 1960s and Eddy Merckx in the 1970s, and from not having been able to take advantage of the decline of the two men. In 1964, an error of judgement cost him the victory: he arrived in the lead on the velodrome of Monaco, the finish of stage 9, and stopped after crossing the line, forgetting that he still had one lap to go. Anquetil overtook him, won the stage and a minute's bonus. Poulidor lost the Tour for 55 seconds! In this edition, it was above all the suffocating duel between the two men on the ascent of the Puy de Dôme that left its mark. Although he beat Anquetil that day, he was unable to extend his lead over his rival. In 1965, while Anquetil was out of the race, Poulidor was surprised by the enthusiasm of an unexpected young Italian, Felice Gimondi. In 1968, with Anquetil retired and Merckx still too young, the Tour de France was taken for granted when he was hit by a motorbike in Aurillac. In 1974, although he put on a show in Saint-Lary and finished second as in 1964 and 1965, Merckx was still too strong. In 1977, Poupou took his leave with a taste of unfinished business. But he remained number one in the hearts of the public.
Construction: 11th to 16th centuries.
History: Leonard is the patron saint of prisoners. According to tradition, King Theodebert had a villa in the valley where he had retired in the 6th century. Having saved the queen from death by his prayers, Leonard was given a plot of land as a reward and built a chapel there. The name of the place, Nobiliacum, became Noblat. In the 9th century, a church was built as the cult of saint Leonard developed. Richard the Lionheart honoured the place with his prayers after his return from captivity in Austria. The church was extended in the 11th and 12th centuries. The bell tower and the large choir with its ambulatory followed. At the end of the 16th century, extensive work was carried out on the apse and choir. Finally, in the 1880s, the two western bays of the nave were rebuilt, as were the upper floors of the bell tower.
Characteristics: the collegiate church is above all a pilgrimage church, often in competition with the ancient church of Saint-Martial in Limoges. In this respect, even if its general appearance is not homogeneous, its ambulatory with seven radiating chapels remains of a respectable size. Indeed, space was needed to accommodate the pilgrims who came to venerate the relics of the saint. The seven absidioles, the external counterpart of these chapels, play a major role in the beauty of the monument, already famous for its magnificent bell tower.
Listed as: Historical Monument since 1859, then 1936. Unesco World Heritage Site as part of the Pilgrimage Route to Santiago de Compostela. https://tourisme-noblat.org/decouvrir/
Mill of the Got
History: the Got mill, created in 1522, is a water mill. Rags (made from hemp, linen and cotton) were made here. Later, paper was made from straw, which was abundant in the Limousin. Finally, the mill produced cardboard (toys, packaging, suitcases) until 1954, when it was finally closed. In 1997, the town council, the department and the region decided to restore it.
Current use: once again producing sheets of paper, the Moulin du Got is a museum open to visitors but also a centre for professional and artistic exchanges. This year it celebrates the 20th anniversary of its reopening. You can discover the artisanal production of art papers, fancy papers made from vegetables and other plants, a typographic printing shop, an exhibition area, a museum and a museum... https://www.moulindugot.com/
Corbelled timber-framed houses, arcades, turrets, modillions, bas-reliefs, private mansions and other alleyways make up the richness of the built heritage of Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat and have earned it the status of Remarkable Heritage Site, a unique case in the former Limousin. In Pont-de-Noblat, an old suburb with character, the houses are squeezed together on the banks of the Vienne and a railway viaduct dominates the valley with its 22 arches. Its history can be discovered at the HistoRail Museum. All these assets make Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat one of the 100 Most Beautiful Detours in France.
Railway museum managed by a voluntary association. It includes a double collection: real objects related to the railway donated by the SNCF and model railways through networks of miniature trains spread over two rooms (total of 500 m2) and about 300 m2 of exterior. https://www.historail.com/
In 1768, a pure white clay called kaolin was discovered in the region. This discovery marked the beginning of the porcelain industry in Limousin. Two factories, labelled Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant (Living Heritage Company), perpetuate this tradition of Limoges porcelain (IGP) in Saint-Léonard: the J.L. Coquet company and Porcelaines Carpenet. Guided tours of the workshops are organised. https://www.porcelainecarpenet.fr/fr/ https://jlcoquet.com/
This municipal museum is dedicated to Gay Lussac (1778-1850), a learned chemist born in Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat. Personal clothing, laboratory instruments and works are on display, evoking the life and work of the scientist in the context of his time. He became universally famous thanks to his discoveries, in particular his laws on the expansion and combination of gases, but he also devoted himself to teaching and to technological and industrial applications throughout his exemplary career.
The Bastin Tannery
Labelled as a Living Heritage Company, it produces the leather needed to make the soles of J.M. Weston shoes, an internationally renowned Limousin shoe manufacturer, the only one to have its own vegetable tannery. From July to September, you can discover the stages of the transformation of these skins during guided tours. https://tourisme-noblat.org/
For those with a sweet tooth: marzipan, candied prunes, etc. can be tasted in the town centre shops, restaurants, market (Saturday morning) and monthly fair (1st Monday of the month). Saint-Léonard is the cradle of the Limousin cattle breed and celebrates it during two days coupled with the medieval festival on the weekend following 15 August.